Universal Tops Disney as the Highest-Grossing Studio of 2023

Universal Studios

Universal bested Disney to become the highest-grossing studio of 2023. Hits such as The Super Mario Bros. Movie, M3GAN, and Oppenheimer helped Universal earn $4.907 billion in worldwide ticket sales last year.

According to Variety, Universal's victory is particularly noteworthy since it marks the first time since 2015 that Disney did not dominate the global box office. Disney's 17 new 2023 films — including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and The Little Mermaid — pulled in $4.827 billion globally. Variety reports, “In a note to press, the studio partially attributed the $80 million difference to the fact that Disney released seven fewer movies than Universal in 2023. It also went on to stress that Disney had the most titles of any studio in the top 10 this year, with 4 of the highest-grossing global releases and 3 of the biggest domestic releases.”

Superhero Fatigue and Expensive Misfires Hindered Disney and Helped Universal Take the 2023 Box Office Crown

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Disney had a lot of pricey misfires such as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, The Haunted Mansion, and The Marvels in 2023 that failed to make enough money to justify their bloated budgets and marketing costs. In addition, general superhero fatigue suggests that the days of making a profit on megabudget comic book adaptations are in the rearview mirror.

According to Variety, “It should be noted that many of Disney’s modest wins or even outright flops would be classified as smash successes for its rivals. The problem is that Disney movies are hugely expensive — typically carrying production budgets of $200 million to $250 million — so they have high bars to clear in terms of profitability. So while Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ranked as the 10th-highest grossing movie of the year with $476 million, it still ended up losing money for the studio in its theatrical run.”

Universal also had some misfires, but none hurt the bottom line as much as Disney's big-budget busts. Renfield only made $26 million globally, but it didn't cost what a Marvel movie does and will find redemption at home as a cult film. Universal's Fast X cost $340 million, grossed $704 million, and barely broke even. However, it's still a win for the studio compared to Disney's The Marvels, which cost $275 million, won't even make $100 million domestically, and will never reach anywhere close to a worldwide gross of $439.6 million needed just to break even.

Following Universal and Disney, Warner Bros. came in third place with movies such as Barbie, The Nun II, and Wonka. Sony came in fourth place with $2.094 billion worldwide, followed by Paramount with $2.026 billion to round out the top five.

Author: Robert DeSalvo

Title: Entertainment News Writer


Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.